Doing Life Together

soldiers-559761_1920This Memorial Day is a day set aside to remember those who have given their lives for our freedom. Thank you to all the families for your tremendous sacrifice.

When loss enters our lives, we change in a moment’s time.  Losing a brother to military service was not easy for me or for any family that is remembering their loved one today.

You may not have experienced loss related to military service, but many of you have personal stories of other types of loss and suffering. They may involve a stepfather who was sexually abusive; a mom who died from breast cancer; parents who divorced; a father jailed on drug charges; a depressed mother unable to care for her children; abandonment; chronic illness; rape; or domestic violence. Loss, suffering and trauma occur daily in our fallen world-not something we want to think about.

But suffering is a universal experience. Jesus wept when His friend Lazaras died. Jesus too suffered His own pain that led to death. We don’t know why good people suffer. We simply know how to respond to suffering and what God has to say about it. In order to cope with loss and trauma we need to:

  • Grieve and mourn. Confronting the intense array of emotions that accompanies grief is not easy, but God’s promise is that we will be comforted (Matthew 5:4). The feelings of shock, anger, depression, bargaining must be experienced rather than avoided. Ask God to give you the grace to work through these emotions. Joy will come in the morning.
  • Share your loss. Grief must be shared. Healing often comes in telling the story. Jesus wept with his friends Mary and Martha over the loss of their brother. You may have few words, but when you are ready, share your story.
  • Accept support. You need the support of family and friends. We are hard-wired to connect with each other. Don’t isolate yourself. Allow other people to serve you in your time of need.
  • If the loss or suffering involves forgiveness, give that forgiveness. Don’t get stuck in grief because of unforgiveness. Eventually, bitterness will develop. Forgiveness is necessary to heal, but not always easy to give. If your loss involves trauma and anger towards someone, ask God to give you the strength to forgive. This may take time and constant prayer. It is not in us to forgive those who don’t deserve it. But remember, God forgives us when we don’t deserve it. He asks us to do the same.
  • Read scriptures on suffering and loss. To quote Twila Paris and her powerful song, ” God is in control”. Nothing happens away from His watchful eye even though loss often feels like being abandoned.
  • When you are a Christ follower, there are several reassuring promises concerning loss. Here are 2: Sorrow and mourning will disappear and be replaced with gladness and joy (Isaiah 51:11).;  Rest will come when we give the burden to the Lord (Matthew 11:28-30).
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